Westphalia is a family oriented, Catholic faith-based community. The church is a central part of the town. St. Mary’s Parish was established soon after the first settlers arrived in Michigan. The original church was the two-room log home of Father Anton Kopp, the first priest of St. Mary’s Parish. The first church was built in 1867 and was the largest in Clinton County, with a seating capacity of 800 people. The bricks that made up the church were built in Westphalia, a project that helped provide many townspeople with work. It cost $70,000 to build and was dedicated in 1870.
In a tragic fire, St. Mary’s church burned down on April 20, 1959. The origins of the fire are unknown and the church was beyond savable. Several fire departments, including St. Johns, Lansing, Portland, Grand Ledge, and Fowler, did their best to contain the fire but were not successful. The fire could be seen from Lansing, 25 miles away, and attracted 1,800 spectators. The church had stood for 92 years and when it burned, took many memories with it and devastated the devoted citizens of the town.
In May of 1962, the new church was resurrected and still stands to this day. St. Mary’s Church is quite a beautiful spectacle that the town takes immense pride and joy in. The Rosary Garden is also a recent addition to the parish grounds and serves as a peaceful haven for prayer, meditation, or just a scenic stroll. The interior of the church was also remodeled and improved recently. St. Mary’s Parish has committees dedicated to several areas, such as the Art Committee, which was in charge of the recent updates to the interior of the church, the Prayer Network, the Cemetery Board, and the School Advisory Council, among other meaningful groups. The church is a prominent part of the community and plays an important role in planning events that bring families together.
Link to St. Mary’s Parish website: http://www.stmarychurch.net/